PIA/GATF--Two Associations, One Goal
The consolidation of the PIA and GATF signifies a new era—one aimed at bettering the position of each association's membership.
BY ERIK CAGLE
The mere mention of the word merger is enough to conjure up images of Exxon and Mobil, layoffs and plant shutdowns.
The modern business partnership—be it a merger, consolidation or whatever moniker du jour is applied—has more to do with bottom lines than frivolous considerations such as, say, enhanced products and services for the customer.
With that in mind, we bring you the marriage of the Printing Industries of America (PIA) and Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF), which went into effect January 1st. It's a unique pairing (officially, a consolidation) of two printing industry associations, but not a surprise to industry insiders who have waited for this or any number of other combinations to come together over the past 10-plus years.
This consolidation is not motivated by tumbling oil prices. In fact, the PIA/GATF architects are proud that the two entities have come together for the benefit of the graphic arts industry overall. The umbrella corporation for the consolidated organizations will be called Print and Graphics Associations International (PGAI).
While there may be few questions as to the motives behind the consolidation, the marriage itself opens the door to questions. Will it truly benefit membership from both halves? Will there be any overlapping services? Will any member services be eliminated and what new benefits will become available? What about the new dues structure?
"The consolidation is offering us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," stresses Jerry Williamson, chairman of Williamson Printing and the 99th chairman of the PIA. (Williamson also served as chairman of the PIA/GATF Consolidation Task Force.)
"The strengths of both organizations complement each other's weaker areas very well," he notes. "For many years, the cry from PIA members was to provide more technical support, and the cry from the GATF was the need for marketing support for its specialized products and services.
"These enhanced offerings will be of enormous value to our members," Williamson adds. "The challenge before us is to make the members aware of these great new opportunities, which are significant, and members should take the appropriate advantage."
The consolidation is being billed as one-stop shopping. To promote the news, the combined entities have released a 50-page booklet that explains the range of products and services available through the consolidated organization, including: government affairs, research and testing, economic and market research, consulting services, education and training, awards programs, human relations, buying power discount programs, process controls and special industry groups.
The GATF and PIA shared an exhibit at GRAPH EXPO and CONVERTING EXPO this past October, at which time a new logo was unveiled along with detailed explanations of the products and services offered through the merger.
Ray Roper, president of the PIA, notes that the consolidation effort was initiated by himself and George Ryan, president of the GATF. Roper remarks that the last major effort to bring together associations (PIA, GATF and the National Association of Printers and Lithographers) occurred more than 10 years ago, and another potential partnership among NAPL and PIA fizzled out in the conference room roughly four years ago.
Roper feels the combination of PIA's marketing/lobbying savvy and GATF's technical expertise makes for a well-rounded organization. Another bonus is that each leg of the partnership—PIA, GATF and the local affiliates—will remain intact; no offices or branches will be closed.
"In my opinion, this is a natural [partnership]," he says. "The programs of the two organizations are very complementary, and there's hardly any overlap. When you put the package together, it pretty well covers the gamut of everything a printing company might need to deal with challenges printers are facing today."
According to Ryan, members had also indicated they were frustrated by the multitude of meetings held by the different associations. Frequently, there were direct conflicts with conferences, board and committee meetings.
Another factor that pointed toward consolidation efforts, from GATF's standpoint, was pressure from its membership to expand services by delivering more programming on a regional basis. This can be achieved through the network of PIA regional affiliate chapters.
The new association, Ryan says, will offer the most comprehensive programming available to the industry. "This programming will help members identify and benefit from the advances in technology," he points out. "Combined with the local affiliates, we will offer one-stop shopping for business needs, technological assistance, management education and governmental affairs."
Roper also envisions the new association's role as a revenue generator for its membership. He feels the consolidation brings tremendous added-value to membership in the organization.
As the new millennium rolls around, the main question is what course will the PIA/GATF take? How will it evolve and grow as technologies and the demand for same-day information increase?
Through the three branches—local affiliates, PIA and GATF—Roper believes all bases will be covered. "You need the local presence for two critical reasons," Roper says. "One, [it acts] as an advocate with the local and state government. More and more, it's having an impact on printers' profitability in terms of regulations, permits and controls.
"Second, you need the local presence to offer programs and services on a more convenient and economical basis than is possible from a national level," Roper adds. "It's critical for smaller companies that find it difficult to take advantage of national offerings. At the local level, you're able to use local talent and can schedule programs at a time that's convenient for member companies."
In terms of regulations, Roper notes, local and state government has more control over the printer than does the federal government.
"Down the road, the three units will be one organization that meets the entire range of needs of the industry," he says. "We want to make it easy for members to get solutions to problems. The goal is to enable the graphic arts industry to operate profitably. That's our mission: increasing our members' bottom line."
By combining the resources, the PIA/GATF partnership can enable the association to grow its programs with existing and developing technologies, according to Ryan.
"The association will continue to develop programming that provides a competitive edge to members in the areas of management and technical education, governmental affairs, industry research and statistics and implementation of technology," he says. "The combined resources will allow us to develop innovative programming that can be delivered through distance education, the Internet or local programs."
In conclusion, Ryan says the new dues structure is not cut and dry—about half of all members will experience a decrease in dues. He also notes that the consolidation will cost the association $1 million in lost-dues revenue.
The Benefits of Consolidation
Membership benefits can be broken into three segments—local PIA/GATF affiliates, GATF and PIA—with dues providing membership in each. The following is a brief glance at some of the new and augmented benefits of each segment:
LOCAL AFFILIATE BENEFITS
Communication. Every local affiliate produces a newsletter or magazine that provides updated local information such as sales and usage taxes, local training and seminars, management information, local market conditions, and the like.
Lobbying. Most affiliates engage in state and local lobbying in the best interests of the industry. Lobbying efforts have kept sales and usage taxes in check.
Insurance programs. Through group programs, members reap considerable savings on their insurance premiums.
Wage and benefit surveys. Provides member companies with benchmarks which they can evaluate the wages and benefits they offer their employees.
Job bank/résume referral services.
Business management seminars.
Technical service hotline. Toll-free number for solving technical problems.
GATFWorld. A bi-monthly publication containing information on the latest technology and problem-solving solutions. Includes an annual "Technology Forecast" on economic and market trends.
State-of-the-art education and training facilities. Members can learn from a variety of introductory and advanced-level training programs.
Testing and research resources. Although available to the industry at large, association members can receive confidential research, production product evaluation, comparison testing and nondisclosure laboratory testing results.
Discounts on quality control devices. Only members have the benefit of custom-designed quality control devices to meet their specific production requirements.
A 25-percent discount on technical consulting services conducted at printers' facilities and priority over nonmembers also seeking assistance.
Government affairs. PIA proclaims itself the only association that represents the printing and graphic arts industry in Washington, DC. It lobbies to ensure the industry is represented in related matters.
PrintPAC. This is the only political action committee representing the needs of the graphic arts industry.
Management Portfolio. Provides members the latest information on business management, human relations, sales and marketing, technology, government affairs and economic issues.
Buying Power Program. Offers members discounts on a variety of services including Airborne Express, an MSDS compliance on-demand service, shipping services and Xerox products (including copiers, DocuTechs and DocuColors).
Executive Development Program. Management program for newer managers, owners and more established senior executives. Companies send their leadership to experience current and comprehensive management training designed exclusively for the graphic arts industry.
PIA Ratios. A measuring stick to compare individual company performance against industry norms.
GATF/PIA Solutions OnSite. This industry consulting service covers virtually all of the dimensions critical to operating a successful printing business. Among topics are business management, environment and financial management.
GATF/PIA Speakers Bureau. Industry speakers can address a range of issues from business management to technology assessment.
GATF/PIA Bookstore. Comprehensive collection of resources and discount prices for members only.
One-color Test Form. New quality control device designed for the small print shop.
Digital Printing Council. Offers services, products and programs about digital printing technology, new markets, applications and profitability.
PIA/GATF Target Audience. A program that offers suppliers an opportunity to effectively market to graphic arts companies.